Nagapattinam district is a coastal district of Tamil Nadu state in southern India. Nagapattinam district was carved out by bifurcating the erstwhile composite Thanjavur district on October 19, 1991. The town of Nagapattinam is the district headquarters. As of 2011, the district had a population of 1,616,450 with a sex-ratio of 1,025 females for every 1,000 males
There are urn burials in and around the city from the Sangam period indicating some level of human habitation. The neighbouring port, Kaveripoompattinam (modern day Poompuhar), was the capital of the Chola kingdom of the Sangam Age, referred to widely in Tamil scriptures like Paṭṭiṉappālai. The early works of Tevaram by the 7th-century poets Appar and Sambandar mention that the town had fortified walls, busy roads, buildings and a busy port. The inscriptions from the Kayarohanswami temple indicate the construction was initiated during the reign of the Pallava king, Narasimha Pallava II (691 – 729 CE). A Buddhist pagoda was built under Chinese influence by the Pallava king and town was frequented by Buddhist travellers.Thirumangai Azhwar, the 9th century vaishnavite saint poet, is believed to have stolen the golden Buddha statue to fund the Ranganthaswamy Temple at Srirangam; the authenticity of the theory is questionable. In the 11th century CE, Chudamani Vihara, a Buddhist monastery was built by Javanese king Sri Vijaya Soolamanivarman with the patronage of Raja Raja Chola. Nagapattinam was the prominent port of Cholas for trade and conquering gateway to the east.
In the early 16th century the Portuguese made commercial contacts with the town and established a commercial centre in 1554 CE. The Portuguese also conducted missionary enterprise in the town. In 1658, the Dutch established an agreement with King Vijaya Nayakkar of Thanjavur on 5 January 1662. Ten villages were transferred from the Portuguese to the Dutch – Nagappattinam Port, Puthur, Muttam, Poruvalancheri, Anthanappettai, Karureppankadu, AzhingiMangalam, Sangamangalam, Thiruthinamangalam, Manjakollai, Nariyankudi. Ten Christian churches and a hospital were built by the Dutch. They also released coins with the name Nagappattinam engraved in Tamil letters. Under an agreement between the first Maratta King Egoji of Thanjavur and the Dutch, Naagappattinam and surrounding villages were handed over to the Dutch on 30 December 1676. In 1690, the capital of Dutch Coromandel moved from Pulicat to Nagapattinam.
This town fell into the hands of the British in 1781 after the two naval battles between British and French fleets were fought off the coast of Negapatam, as it was then known: the first in 1758 as part of the Seven Years' War and the second in 1782 as part of the American Revolutionary War. The town was taken by the British from the Dutch in 1781 (who had been formally brought into the war in 1780). When the Dutch and British reached a peace agreement in 1784, Nagapattinam was formally ceded to the British. 277 villages, with Nagore as the headquarters, were handed over to the East India Company.
From 1799 to 1845 CE Nagapttinam was the headquarters of Tanjore district. Nagapattinam and Nagore were incorporated as a single municipality in 1866 CE. The town remained one of the chief ports to the Madras Presidency. The port suffered decline after the inclusion of Tranquebar and Tuticorin. Nagapattinam was one of the regions severely affected by the tsunami which followed the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake.
Culture and Tourism
Tourism plays a key economic role for the town even though fishing is the major occupation.
Kayarohanaswami Temple, a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva, is located in Nagapattinam. The temple has been in existence from the 6th century CE and has been revered by the verses of Tevaram, the 7th–8th century Saiva canonical work by Appar, Sambandar and Sundarar. The temple is one of the seven temples of the Thyagaraja cult, classified as Saptha Vidangam, where the deity Thyagaraja is believed to portray different dance styles. The temple is also known for the shrine of Neelayadakshi, the consort of Kayarohanaswami.
Soundararajaperumal Temple is a Hindu temple in Nagapattinam dedicated to Vishnu. It is one of the Divya Desams, the 108 temples of Vishnu revered in Nalayira Divya Prabandham by the Tirumangai Azhwar, one of the 12 poet saints called Alwars of the 6th–9th century. The other prominent Hindu temples in the district are Sikkal Singaravelan Temple at Sikkal, Vedaranyeswarar Temple at Vedaranyam, Ettukudi Murugan Temple and Koothanur Maha Saraswathi Temple.
Nagore Durgha, a 16th-century minaret located in Nagore, is an important pilgrimage centre of the town. The Kanduri festival is a 14-day event celebrated for the annual urs(anniversary) of the saint Hajrath Shahul Hamid (1490–1579 CE), for whom the minaret was built. The festival is celebrated in commemoration of the anniversary of the saint's death, and pilgrims from various religions participate in the rituals and rites. The festival is also seen as a sacred exchange between Hindus and Muslims expressing solidarity of mixed faith in the region. It is believed that 60 percent of the shrines were built by Hindus and historically the minaret has many domestic and international visitors. There are three other prominent mosques; one near Nagai Pudhur Road, one near the new bus stand and another at Moolakadai Street.
Velankanni is a pilgrimage centre located 10 km (6.2 mi) from Nagapattinam. The town is known for the Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health, a Roman Catholic church built during the 17th century. Pilgrimage to the basilica is common during September when people of many faiths, especially Hindus, Muslims and Christians of all denominations visit the basilica.